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« Wisconsin Education: Do We Even Need A Race? | Main | It Is Not About The Snow, Virginia »

December 28, 2009

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R.J.

They were duped. It's just another consequence of the global warming hoax.

1) Outfit the police/fire/EMT with Subaru's and Blizzak tires.
2) Hand out shovels and 5-Star brandy to the bums.
3) Put plows on the front of the hipsters' bikes.

Shorty

Excellent questions. As I previosly said it still takes the same amount of time to plow between point A and point B and NO amount of technology is greatly going to change this fact. It still takes common sense and basics in plowing and no "spin' Hand wringing" " political hot air" "task force" "snow report" is going to change the facts.Madison got what it asked for so keep slip sliding away. You deserve it until some common sense takes over.

Barry Orton

Today I took my wife's car in for the $700 in body work that was a direct result of this problem. A neighbor slid slowly into her at at stop sign 2 blocks from home 6 days after the storm. There's the rental car for 2 days, and the hassle of bringing the car in and picking it up. So it's about $1000 for one of thousands of similar incidents, most of which never even make it into police reports.

OTOH, the body shop people said that business more than doubled since the storm, so there is a silver lining for some in all this.

antpoppa

I would suggest that the current weather patterns are a snapshot, rather than a long term trend. However, if we continue to have Tsunami like snow storms that cost as much as has been presented, we should reconsider transportation options and population sprawl. One step that I would like to see is the enlargement of city bus stops to accommodate taxis, and private mass transit vehicles i.e. small buses, during overload conditions or special hours. Waiting for 2 hours in freezing weather for a delayed city bus..

mike

Paul, This is one of those rare cases when I find myself in complete agreement with you. Firstly, the current people in charge of running the city have been in denial about our climate. They bought the line that the planet was warming and that Wisconsin was turning into Arkansas. Yes, they actually said that....and planned accordingly. The trouble with being delusional is that reality eventually bites you in the face. Just look at the four day storm over Christmas....we could very easily have received another 18-20 inches of snow. We just got lucky and it shifted west.....I just don't know how to bring common sense back to Madison...You are right that this report is sadly lacking in sound reasoning...or any kind of logic.....so very sad.

wort

"2) Hand out shovels and 5-Star brandy to the bums."

The cheap stuff should do the trick.

Mark Clear

Paul, you fail both statistics and climatology. Overall snowfall during a season does not give any indication of the severity or duration of individual storms.

Paul

Mark- your attack on my skills as a statistician is bogus, but more importantly does not change the fact that the city has reduced its commitment to snow plowing.

I am not familiar with current data, but for a forty year period the city averaged seven plowing storms a season - that would be a depth of three inches or greater.

If you turn to the Piraino Report (she wrote it, not me) you will see that there is a correlation between the inches of snow each winter and the number of contracted plowings, the major storm.

If you did not know this from discussions with Public Works when reviewing the snow removal portion of the budget, I apologize.

You are correct - it is possible that in two different seasons of 24 inch total accumulation, one might have had two storms of 12 inches the first year and 24 storms of one inch the second year. The first season would require two major plowings, the other none.

But if you examine your own report you will see that there is a correlation between total inches and and the number of contracted plowings.

In fact the city of Madison ONCE BUDGETED snow removal based on the cost of plowing, figuring total number of inches expected in the harshest winters times the lane miles of city streets. AND the city also ALWAYS approved supplemental appropriations when this was underestimated. In other words, lack of funds was never an excuse for not plowing.

That is not done today. It is not done because there is not enough equipment and there are at least seven public works positions frozen to accumulate salary savings.

If you would like to review this further, please request the item be placed on the Board of Estimates Agenda, have the Comptroller, the Streets Superintendent, HR Director and budgets for the past twenty years available and we can wrap up this discussion.

Mark, if you want to lower the standard for snow removal, that is a perfectly acceptable choice, but to ignore the fact that the city no longer has the capability to clear snow as it did ten or twenty years is silly. My concern is not just the change in policy -- the concern is that it was made without adequate information and discussion.

Mark Clear

Paul, I accept your challenge; this item is on the agenda for Tuesday's CCOC meeting (108 CCB at 4:30). I hope you will attend.

Paul

Mark:

Thanks for the invitation to attend the council organizational meeting tonight but I have previous plans. Herer are some things to think about:

If I have the facts correct, in 1990 the city had at least 75 pieces of snow removal equipment. (I believe that when we include other equipment converted to snow removal, it was closer to 90.) Today it is 90. If we assume the miles of city street are correlated to lane miles, to keep up with growth the city needs at least 97 pieces of equipment.

Of course to do a valid comparison, we need to know if the size of the equipment is the same.

I suggest that be the starting point – looking at the amount of equipment and comparable snow removal capability.

Next I would look at staffing, Budgets are useful planning tools, but they are before the fact. They do not reveal the actual expenditures and more importantly the actual number of pieces of equipment put on the road.

For example, my understanding is the because of salary savings, Public Works has seven frozen positions. Clearly, the budget would not reflect that.

Then there is the question of the private contractors. I know there were problems with some on the west side a few years ago. Was there improved performance? If they were dismissed, were they replaced?

I would also look at what happened when the old garbage trucks were retired – how were they replaced for snow removal?.

My understanding is that the decline in snow removal commitment occurred before Dave became mayor. I would like to know how that happened, but I would not use that as the baseline since it represents a lower level of service.

To do a real service to the people of Madison, I would ask what would it take in terms of capital and operating budget commitments to the period from 1960-2000.

Finally, we have had additional cuts in parks and other public works services. Janet’s report suggests that if we increased the commitment to snow removal, we would have idle staff and equipment the rest of the year. Not true if we were to make a commitment to return other public works services that were cut the rest of the year.

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